Pleather vs Patent Vinyl Fabric

When you are starting a sewing project, one of the first questions to ask yourself is what type of fabric you want to work with. If you are creating a leathery look, knowing the difference between pleather (plastic leather) and patent vinyl is an important distinction to make.

Differences Between Pleather and Vinyl

Pleather is matte and leather-like; whereas, patent vinyl is shiny and plastic-like. If you were to ask which fabric looks more like plastic, it would usually be the vinyl, even though pleather is also made from plastic.

Pleather dresses on celebrities

Patent vinyl is the material that usually feels more like plastic as well, while pleather usually feels more like real leather. The differences in appearances and textures are profound, so they are not interchangeable. If you are going for a sexy, fetish look, patent vinyl is the way to go; whereas, if you are looking for that subtle edge, pleather is the way to go.


One more very important difference between these two substances can also be made. Pleather is usually more porous. As a result, it is possible for air to pass through the fabric and this can help keep body odor at bay and make it more appropriate for all-day wear than vinyl, which is more appropriate for a party that lasts a few hours than, say, all day power-shopping and dinner with friends.

On the other hand, the patent vinyl is less porous and this type of fabric is usually far easier to wipe off just using water. Some of these types of surfaces can even be cleaned off using the right mild soap.

Patent Vinyl dress by Balenciega

Certain varieties of pleather can also be dry cleaned very easily. However, certain varieties of vinyl cannot be cleaned this way. This is one point to consider before you make your selection.

Additional Information

The main reason people choose furniture, clothing, or accessories made from pleather or vinyl is because they are usually less expensive than real leather. Another reason that these fabrics are used is to help save the lives of animals. The “cruelty-free” aspect of pleather has become such a compelling reason to wear it, that it is often called “vegan leather” now. For vegans and other animal rights activists, this gives them the look that they covet without the moral implications that come with wearing leather. Vanessa Williams, a vegan, recently wore a stunning pleather dress on Desperate Housewives, packing as much style as its animal leather counterpart.

Pleather and patent vinyl may not be available at your local fabric store, so finding a specialty fabric retailer online is often the best option. This is especially beneficial if you live in a small city or rural area where your options for local shopping may be limited. Once you have found your fabric, you should ensure that you have a pattern that is suitable for a pleather or vinyl project and the proper needle. Once you are ready, you will be able to create custom fashions that are envied by your leather-wearing friends and are not available at the average store.

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